The First Tee – Pebble Beach Pro Am

Adam Daly
By Adam Daly February 4, 2019 21:12

The First Tee – Pebble Beach Pro Am

This Week

It’s back to a three-course rotation for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, with ShotLink data available on only one course (Pebble Beach Golf Links) and a 54-hole cut. Between watching celebrities, the lack of data, and the uninspiring golf courses – this week is basically a pitch & putt contest – this is one of the worst weeks on Tour; consider paring entries back this week (due to a lack of data).

THE COURSES

There are three courses this week: Pebble Beach Golf Links (PBGL), Monterey Peninsula (MP) and Spyglass Hill (SH). All three courses are short coastal courses – it’s important to check the weather later in the week as they’re all exposed to the elements more than most weeks (with one exception noted below) – and have easy-to-hit wide fairways.

The greens on average are smaller than a typical PGA event, with the average ranging between 3500 to 4500 sq. feet depending on the course, and are all poa annua.

The three courses will be broken down below, but since they all share the same characteristics, it’s a quick week in terms of information: target golfers that can hit it long, good with wedges, and players that do well in wind/on coastal courses. There’s not much to consider beyond that.

Spyglass Hill

Spyglass is typically the hardest of the three courses although it’s the one course that’s a bit more protected from the elements; if wind will be a factor on a certain day, stacking golfers playing SH can be a profitable strategy.

The main reason SH is a tougher test is off the tee, which offers more challenges here than the other two courses as there are more bunkers and fescue/native areas to contend with.

At just 6953 yards, this course is incredibly short, with five of the par-4s below 410 yards and the par-5s playing between 528-590 yards. Those par-5s are actually the longest of any of the three courses (on average), and rarely see eagles made – a combined five last year.

Monterey Peninsula

Monterey is a par-71 that plays at 6958, but it’s unique in that it has five par-5s and four par-3s, which leaves only nine par-4s; only one of those par-4s plays above 454 yards, and in calm temperatures this is the easiest of the three courses. Last year, the average was 0.941 strokes below par, with 19 eagles and 587 birdies compared to just 405 bogeys / 33 doubles or worse.

This is a course that rewards the bomb-and-gouge method – as do the other courses, but this one is practically tailored for that style of golf – which means looking for long hitters and good wedges.

Pebble Beach Golf Links

PB is a par-72 at only 6816 yards, which is absurdly short for a PGA course but that’s the reality when considering this is a pro-am event. Depending on the weather this is usually the middle-of-the-pack course in terms of toughness, but it really gets hard in windy and rainy conditions. Accuracy off the tee is more impactful here in terms of avoiding bogeys as out of bounds here is more plentiful/easier to hit than the other two courses.

STATS

The Strokes Gained stats to focus on in order (not including Tee to Green):

  • Approach
  • Off-the-Tee
  • Putting
  • Around the Green

Counting stats to focus on in order:

  • Birdie or Better %
  • Driving Distance
  • Approach Shots: 50-125 Yards
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Par-5 Scoring

Top-Tier Golfers

Dustin Johnson ($11,400)

Pros: Was 1st in SG: T2G last year and sat 8th relative to par between 50-125 yards out. Best overall BoB%, strong putter on poa, and had the best birdie average last year at a whopping 4.7. Coming in off a Euro Tour win so his form is good, DJ’s history here is absurd: two wins, two runner-ups, and eight top-10s out of 11 attempts (only one missed cut.)

Cons: Coming over from Saudi Arabia, so it’s a touch more travel than normal. Price is prohibitive and his course history may make him a popular play – although the highest-priced golfer doesn’t usually see that much ownership. Golf-wise, there isn’t much that would qualify as a con.

Branden Grace ($8900)

Pros: Strong player on coastal tracks with a very low ball flight, he finished T20 here last year in his first attempt and is coming off a solo second at the Phoenix Open last week. He’s above average in terms of distance (74th) and made BoB on 21.01% of his holes. Good poa putter.

Cons: Ranked 60th last year in SG: T2G and his stats don’t reflect his fairly-high price point. He should see a good chunk of ownership as he’s below $9000 and showed out really well last week. Statistically not a great play in other areas: 86th in GIR, 50th relative to par from 50-125 yards, and 102nd in par-5 BoB.

Other: Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($8300), Tommy Fleetwood ($10300)

 

Value Golfer (below $8000)

J.B. Holmes ($7900)

Pros: Has six top-10s in 12 tries here, to only two missed cuts – although one was last year. Very strong player in the wind, and is coming off a T26 last week. Was 30th in SG: T2G last year with strong distance off the tee and decent approach numbers (57th in proximity from 50-125). Good on par-5s, and he’ll get twelve of them before the cut.

Cons: Putting is always a big deal for Holmes, ranking 157th in SG: Putting last year (although he’s *slightly* better on poa.) He’s bad around the green and lacks accuracy off the tee, which could lead to a good number of bogeys if he doesn’t club down off the tee.

Grayson Murray ($6300)

Pros: Had a T8 here last year and has made two straight cuts. Extremely long off the tee and has been above average with a wedge in hands over the past few years. For a long hitter, he has very good birdie or better numbers on par-3s and -4s (but not par-5s) and was 21st in overall BoB% last year. His price tag is the best part, but because he’s so long and it’s a three-day cut, he should be able to accumulate a good amount of DFS points even if he misses the cut.

Cons: Statistically he looks awful from last year, so this is more a bet that his last two weeks where he flashed good form before bad fourth rounds are him regaining his form from before his injury. He’s always been one of the worst putters on tour, and he’s struggled mightily with his irons at times. He’s extremely high-risk/reward.

Other: Keith Mitchell ($7100), Trey Mullinax ($7400)

 

You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey and good luck this week!

 

Adam Daly
By Adam Daly February 4, 2019 21:12

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